In his latest memo to the campus, Chancellor Matos Rodriguez announced some further changes in the academic calendar. Starting this Friday, Mar. 27, we will be undergoing a recalibration period (not a break), which will give us additional time to get technology needs to students and (if sufficient devices are available) to faculty who need such support. It will also give faculty more time to implement technological changes related to the rollout of distance education. This period will go through Wednesday, Apr. 1, with instruction resuming on Thursday, Apr. 2. The University’s spring recess will now be shortened and will run from Wednesday, Apr. 8 through Friday, Apr. 10.
I have received numerous requests from faculty and Deans regarding these changes in the calendar, most asking for exemptions from the recalibration period. Unfortunately, since this is the new CUNY calendar, we are not in a position to grant ad-hoc exceptions, since the goal of this recalibration interval is to allow students who have already been disadvantaged by a lack of access to technology to catch up. I understand concerns that this will interrupt the academic momentum that has been delicately established with the new modes of instruction, and that this is another perturbation of our academic schedule.
I have also received questions about Friday classes, which will now have two fewer sessions available for instruction during the semester. I would offer the same guidance for this situation, as we normally institute for snow days–extending the length of class sessions if necessary, and offering asynchronous assignments wherever possible. In general, asynchronous instruction is more flexible, and will be affected less by these calendar changes than synchronous classes.
Numerous questions have emerged around testing mechanisms in the online environment, and CUNY is working on purchasing some solutions that will permit effective online proctoring. As soon as those are available, we will let you know.
We are also continuing to ask for your help in identifying students who have not been participating in classes since the move to distance education. If you can continue to supply this information to your chairs and Deans, it will help us in the process of allocating technology to students. The best way to ensure that a student is considered for eligibility for a device is to have them fill out the online survey for technology that IT has created by 5))pm tonight.
I continue to be inspired by all that our campus has done and continues to do to respond to this unparalleled challenge to our normal modes of instruction. I’m sure many of you are experiencing fatigue as the changes continue to unfold, but please know how grateful I am to all of you for your commitment to our students.
By J. Michael Parrish